5 Players Who Will Make or Break the Miami Dolphins' 2013 Season

Devin Noonan@@devinnoonanCorrespondent IIIJune 14, 2013

5 Players Who Will Make or Break the Miami Dolphins' 2013 Season

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    The Miami Dolphins are ready to take some time off now that minicamp has officially come to a close.

    Although the regular season is lurking somewhere off in the distant future, the 'Phins appear ready to roll into training camp next month with a head full of steam.

    Jeff Ireland and the front office have done all they can to put this team in a position to succeed this season, and don't be surprised if they make a few more roster moves before the opening day kickoff.

    Can the Dolphins knock off the evil empire in New England and reclaim the AFC East title?

    Are they a legitimate threat to compete for the Lombardi Trophy in Coach Philbin's second season?

    If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then there are a few key players who absolutely must step-up and perform exceptionally well this season.

Mike Wallace

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    You don't sign a player to a $60 million contract without expecting to see a significant return on your investment.

    Mike Wallace was brought in with the sole purpose of providing Ryan Tannehill with a true No. 1 receiver, someone who is capable of stretching the field and making big plays.

    His blazing speed made him a home-run threat and coveted target during his time in Pittsburgh. The veteran receiver seems to be getting along well with young Tannehill early on, already making some bold comparisons to his former quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

    Now, even if Wallace doesn't put up huge numbers during his first season in Miami, he should, at the very least, be able to draw the defense's attention and open up the passing game for others.

    However, if he manages to produce like one of the top receivers in the league, as his paycheck suggests he should, then this could turn into one of the deadliest passing attacks in the NFL.

Dion Jordan

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    He may still be recovering from offseason surgery, but rookie Dion Jordan is expected to play a major role in the Dolphins' pass rush.

    Cameron Wake has firmly established himself as one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and hopes are high that Jordan can step right in and do the same.

    Since the third overall pick is still finishing his degree at Oregon, and has yet to join his teammates in practice, it's still unclear as to just where he will fit into Kevin Coyle's scheme this season.

    His versatility is an asset that provides a ton of flexibility, so it will be interesting to see just how many different ways the defense can utilize his diverse skillset.

    Whether he starts off upright or with a hand in the dirt, lining up off the edge or hovering at linebacker, Jordan has the potential to emerge as a legitimate pass rushing threat from day one.

    More pressure will translate to more turnovers, and more turnovers can only help contribute to the win column.

Lamar Miller

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    With Reggie Bush now suiting up for the Detroit Lions and Daniel Thomas' shaky track record over the past few seasons, the starting running back role is Lamar Miller's to lose.

    We all know that Miller has some serious wheels and big play capability, but according to Ryan Tannehill, the second-year back is starting to look like a reliable option in pass protection too.

    Given that the team has yet to practice in pads, it'd be foolish not to take every observation made at this point with a grain of salt. However, it is refreshing to know he's been working hard to better understand his role in the passing game and become more of an all-around asset.

    With a myriad of new offensive weapons and a relatively solid offensive line, Miller could be the X-factor that turns Mike Sherman's offense into a defense's worst nightmare.

Brent Grimes

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    The Dolphins' secondary was one of the major focal points of Jeff Ireland's remodeling plan this offseason.

    While the safety tandem of Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons will remain intact for at least one more year, the cornerback position has welcomed quite a few new faces.

    Of the newest additions to the 'Phins secondary there is really only one player who can immediately take this Dolphins defense to the next level, and that man is Brent Grimes.

    If the undersized corner can return to Pro Bowl caliber form, which early workouts seem to indicate he can, then the Dolphins finally have a reliable defender to blanket the league's best receivers.

    The 'Phins defense struggled to force turnovers and perform consistently all of last season, so there will be added pressure on the veteran Grimes' to transform this secondary into a well-oiled, playmaking machine.

Ryan Tannehill

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    If there is one player who will single-handedly make or break the Dolphins' season in 2013, it has to be quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

    As a rookie, Tannehill did a relatively nice job of limiting his mistakes as the season progressed. Although there was noticeable growth and development for the first year starter, it was evident by season's end that he still had a ways to go.

    Tannehill stated that he took the time this offseason to study each of his rookie snaps more than once, and he seems to have a good idea of where he needs to improve heading into his sophomore campaign.

    He's acknowledged that he still has a lot of work to do, but the young quarterback is starting to emerge as a natural leader while exuding a new found confidence.

    If Ryan Tannehill can manage to live up to his expectations, and the expectations the coaching staff and fans have set for him, then this team can truly be a contender.